Much more than a collection of recipes (although a fine selection is included), Edible: a Celebration of Local Foods is just as much a love letter to the farmers, ranchers, fishers and cooks that produce and create with the bounty found in this country (and southern Canada). If this book doesn’t send you straight to the Farmer’s Market (or your own backyard garden), nothing will.
Divided into six regions (Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, California and the West, Pacific Northwest and Midwest) Edible starts with a series of thoughtful, often humorous, always enlightening articles and essays about the difficulties and rewards of producing local, organic sustainable food. Farmers, chefs and organizations are highlighted for each region including a listing at the end of each chapter of things that are unique to that area (Muscatine melons for Iowa for instance, or razor clams in Seattle) that make this worth checking out before your next road trip.
Admittedly, we’re probably a several weeks away from harvesting from our gardens, but it doesn’t hurt to start planning early. And what better (or more fun) way than to look through cookbooks? After all, you might never have even considered planting brussels sprouts until you see Keith Snow’s “Brussels Sprouts with Mornay Sauce” in his Harvest Eating Cookbook. OK, maybe you’re still not considering growing brussels sprouts, but you get the idea – grow what you like to eat.
Taken in part from Snow’s PBS series, this book features delicious, simple recipes – none takes longer than a page to describe – using seasonal local ingredients. Some of those ingredients – avocados, mangos – aren’t exactly locally grown here in Iowa, but there are plenty of fresh ideas for local favorites – asparagus, butternut squash, tomatoes, corn, etc.
Don’t have a garden? There’s a huge variety of beautiful, locally grown produce at the Freight House Farmers Market here in Davenport, held every Saturday from 8am to 1pm and every Tuesday 3pm to 6pm, year round.
Eat better, help save the planet and support your local economy – you can do it all in one place, all at the same time simply by visiting and shopping at your local Farmers Market.
You’ll eat better because you’ll know exactly where you food comes from, often the food is organically grown, and usually it has been harvested within the last 24-48 hours so it’s incredibly fresh. You’ll help save the planet by buying locally, cutting the use of fuel (and the resulting pollution) caused by transporting produce hundreds of miles. And you’ll support your local economy by buying from area farmers – people who are probably your neighbors.
Lucky for us, the Quad City area is home to a lot of Farmers Markets making it easy to find one close by. This week (August 3-9) is National Farmers Market Week, a reminder to get out there and see what your local growers have to offer. August is a great time to shop at the Farmers Markets – corn, tomatoes, zuchinni, beets, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, onions, herbs of all kinds not to mention gorgeous flowers such as sunflowers and zinnias – are all in great abundance now.
Not sure what to do with all of that bounty? Check out these books for fresh, easy recipes designed to make the most of this wonderful season.
Outstanding in the Field: a Farm to Table Cookbook by Jim Denevan
The Farm to Table Cookbook by Ivy Manning
Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes by Jeanne Kelley
Summer on a Plate by Anna Pump
Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets by Deborah Madison